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Implant Puts Control Into Hands of Heart Failure Patients

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Posted: 9/1/2005

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The country’s first permanent implant today of an investigational cardiac device for monitoring and treating congestive heart failure -- an implanted sensor linked to a palm-size computer – promises to place heart failure in the hands of the patient, similar to the technology that revolutionized the home management of diabetes.

The device may finally give doctors a long-awaited advantage over the disease and the capability to greatly reduce costly, urgent and repeated hospitalizations.

After receiving the implant, patients with congestive heart failure can return home and use the handheld monitoring system’s electronic “adviser” to make changes to their treatment regimen, if needed, based on specifications pre-set by their physician.

Lonnie Marshall, 54, of Kentucky became the nation’s first recipient of the device today at the Richard M. Ross Heart Hospital at The Ohio State University.
Marshall is the first U.S. patient in the international study to receive the device, developed by Savacor Inc., which is being tested for functionality and efficacy. The device was implanted using a minimally invasive cardiac catheterization procedure, similar to a pacemaker insertion.

“This technology offers advantages for patients that can improve their care and quality of life,” said Dr. Garrie Haas, a heart failure specialist and the study’s principal investigator at Ohio State.

“People with congestive heart failure need daily monitoring,” said Haas. “Safely balancing fluids, blood pressure, kidney function and the multiple medications required to treat heart failure requires frequent monitoring and intervention. If not done, significant complications can arise, potentially resulting in long-term hospitalization or death.”

The Savacor device, called the HeartPod, has a sensor that is implanted in the heart’s left atrial chamber to measure the highly predictive left atrial pressure, the most accurate indicator of complications associated with chronic heart failure. The sensor also measures core body temperature and the intracardiac electrogram, or EKG.

Dr. William Abraham, chief of cardiovascular medicine at Ohio State and principal investigator of the multisite international study, says measurement of the left atrial pressure is the device’s hallmark.

“A high left atrial pressure indicates worsening heart failure with increasing congestion (water accumulating in the lungs), which is responsible for most heart failure hospitalizations,” said Abraham, who also is associate director for clinical/translational research of the Davis Heart and Lung Research Institute at Ohio State.

“This device can detect these fluctuations, and in real time, ‘prescribe’ to the patient an adjustment in their medication,” added Abraham. “In the longterm, we hope this will lead to improved and cost-effective care.”
The implant of the device was performed in a two-hour procedure by a medical team that included Drs. Charles A. Bush and Charles Love.

Congestive heart failure (CHF) affects nearly 5 million Americans, with 550,000 new cases diagnosed each year, according to the American Heart Association. CHF is a chronic disorder whose origin may be from coronary artery disease, hypertension, cardiomyopathy and valvular heart disease.

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David Crawford
Medical Center Communications

Clinical/Translational Research; Heart Disease; OSU Medical Center; Ross Heart Hospital; Treatment Options